Car Accidents In New York With Emergency Vehicles And Vehicles Doing Work On The Road
The law involving accidents with emergency vehicles such as ambulances, police vehicles or fire trucks or vehicles performing road maintenance or construction such as work trucks or construction equipment is tricky and is a trap for the unweary. Our New York City car accident lawyers have extensive experience in handling these cases and know the traps to avoid.
The first issue that arises is whether the other vehicle is a City or municipal vehicle. If the answer is yes, then a notice of claim must be filed with the municipality within 90 days of the accident. If the injured person does not file this claim within 90 days, a special application must be made to the Court and special permission must be obtained. If the vehicle is owned by New York State a notice of intention to make claim must be filed with the Attorney General for the State of New York and a Claim must be filed in the Court of Claims, not the Supreme Court.
The next that comes up is New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 1103. Vehicle and Traffic Law 1103(b) exempts vehicles from the rules of the road while actually engaged in work on a highway. However, the law also states that the law is not intended to protect persons or teams or such operators of motor vehicles or other equipment from the consequences of their reckless disregard for the safety of others. Based upon this statute, the Courts have held that simple negligence is not enough to establish liability against a vehicle which is actually performing roadway maintenance or repair. To even recover any damages, a person injured in a car accident with a vehicle performing work on any highway must prove that the defendants actions rose to the standard of the recklessness standard Our New York car accident lawyers won a major appellate decision which limited the application of this law. Our New York accident attorneys successfully argued before the Appellate Division that these provisions did not literally mean any vehicle which was involved in working on the road. In our case, the City of New Rochelle argued that a garbage truck was subject to this law and could only be held liable for recklessness, but not for ordinary negligence. Our New York truck accident lawyers successfully argued that the law only applied to vehicles involved in construction, repairs or maintenance of the road itself.
Another common issue involves New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law 1104 which covers the conduct of authorized emergency vehicles. New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 1104 states that the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when involved in an emergency operation, may exercise certain privileges not available to the general public. The law states that operators of these vehicles may stop, stand, park, without regard to the traffic law, proceed past a steady red signal, a flashing red signal or a stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation. The law also allows these vehicles to exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property and disregard regulations governing directions of movement or turning in specified directions. In other words they are allowed to go through red lights, speed and drive the wrong direction down a road.
These laws have a few important caveats such as the fact that these privileges only apply (except for police vehicles) when only when audible signals are sounded from any said vehicle while in motion by bell, horn, siren, electronic device or exhaust whistle as may be reasonably necessary, and when the vehicle is equipped with at least one lighted lamp so that from any direction, under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet from such vehicle, at least one red light will be displayed and visible. So the primary question which determines whether the offending car or truck driver is subject to a negligence or reckless standard is whether they used lights and sirens. Often, these are he said, she said cases, so if lights and sirens were not used, it is important to get witness statements early on to confirm that the emergency vehicle did not use lights and sirens.
Another important caveat is that the law states that these privileges do not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others. Our experienced personal injury lawyers have handled many of these cases and while every case is different we have often utilized experts to prove recklessness. In cases of emergency vehicle operation, there are establishes standards and protocols which emergency vehicle operators are supposed to employ to reduce the inherent risk in operating outside of the rules of the road, such as making sure an intersection is clear before proceeding past a red light or stop sign. A violation of these protocols can be utilized to establish recklessness.
From our Manhattan and New York offices, our experienced lawyers have handled all types of motor vehicle personal injury accident cases including those involving cars, trucks, ambulances, police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances. Our attorneys provide competent and aggressive representation to the communities of New York City, Rockland including Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Ossining, New Rochelle, Pelham, Port Chester, Bronxville, Rye, Nyack, Spring Valley, Clarkstown, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Pelham, Tarrytown, Irvington, Sleepy Hollow, Peekskill, Armonk, Mount Pleasant, Scarsdale, Rye and Tarrytown. Our New York accident lawyers have offices in Manhattan and New York.